I've got a fairly large deck that sits, in part, on a hillside. Over the past years the soil is eroding away such that I'm getting worried about the outermost posts. I know I need to put a good amount of dirt back onto the hill side to build it back up. It probably needs to be done in stages too in order for it to settle properly before doing hardscape. The question is how to prevent the erosion from happening again. One challenge is that the base of the hillside is a seasonal creek that flows in the winter. The water doesn't come up the hill very far and it doesn't "flow" against the hill; more so just rests against it. But if you were to build a retaining wall all the way at the base of the hill, it would be exposed to the creek flow. Looking at the picture

The area is almost in shade the entire day and it's under a eucalyptus tree which dumps all kinds of crap around it so getting things to grow is difficult. I think the best thing to do would be to build a terraced retaining wall starting at the base of the hill back up. That'd be a large and expensive project so I'm not super excited about that option.

My latest idea would be to rebuild the hillside with fill dirt and then dump some 4"-6" gabion granite stones on top of the entire hillside. I'm talking the loose stones, not the cages with rocks you commonly see. I still worry those 4-6" stones are not large enough to stay put. So maybe I need bigger stones? My idea is based off of what I've seen around the edges of rivers and lakes sometimes. Is the stone idea going to work? Any suggestions/advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

Please ignore the square pavers in the photos. I know they will do absolutely nothing to help.

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3 Answers 3


You might need a professional here, because my suggestion is indeed a retaining wall. What you do in cases like this is build the wall down to a solid footing. Make sure they put rods into the hillside to both hold the wall in place and help stay the soil. The wall will better resist the water and stop the erosion. Check with local regulations, but you can certainly build walls down into a creek bed structurally.

  • That's what I was afraid of. Is the rock idea just a hack or somewhat temporary solution? My guess would be that the retaining wall would be super expensive given the engineering needs, material movement, limited access and size. You can't tell from the pictures but the same sort of thing would need to be done on the other side of the tree. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 15:57
  • The rocks won't hold for long, if at all. Retaining walls are designed for this sort of thing.
    – Machavity
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 16:16
  • Actually sizeable rocks (brick or larger) and a rooty shrub or two should do fine... along with a quarter ton of additional dirt around them.
    – TylerH
    Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 14:37

I’d use shotcrete.

Shotcrete is concrete sprayed on the ground to protect the hillside.

It’ll be about 1/10th the cost of a retaining wall and completed in about 1 day.


what did you end up doing? Not to be offensive, but this problem seems very minor compared to my issues, I have a much larger deck on a steeper hillside with about 10 major footings. In your circumstance I would have made a very small retaining wall with pressure treated lumber a few feet behind each footing (should be a few hour project) then fill raised space in between footing and wall with solid gravel, then maybe put weed fabric on top. Could use extra gravel to put in other places near footings and cover with fabric/landscape staples again. I've done that on a deck similar to yours and it worked extremely well with almost no erosion in 6 or 7 years.

  • Their issues are not minor to them. Stating the OP's issues are minor compared to yours in no way helpful in answering the question of how they should best address THEIR problem. Perhaps a more thoughtful choice of words would be "I have similar but more complex situation and this is how i addressed it, it may work for you as well." The answer box is not the proper place to ask "what did you end up doing?" diy.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 20:00
  • There's really no other discussion of this on here so it was an answer and a question at the same time. I'm sure the person won't be offended or see it, I was just looking for advice on methods for handling a larger problem. Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 2:50

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